Exuberant, with its infinite forests and sinuous rivers that run towards the ocean, the Department of Madre de Dios is where life is abundant in every corner. Puerto Maldonado, its capital city, is the only way to gain access to some of the area´s national parks and reserves. In different time periods, it was an important rubber, wood, gold and crude oil exploitation center. However, today, two of the department´s main economic activities are ecotourism, along with the growing and commercialization of nuts.
About 10 km. from Puerto Maldonado, and after an hour and a half of hiking, one finds Lake Sandoval, surrounded by aguajales, orchids, lupunas, caoba trees and mauritian palm trees of up to 30 meters in height. In addition, the lake is the home of a great variety of bird and animal species, such as toucans, macaws, parrots, herons, tapirs and turtles, as well as the refuge of the river otter and black lizard, both endangered species. In the vicinity of Lake Valencia, 60 km. from Puerto Maldonado, on the Madre de Dios River, several native communities live and are dedicated to fishing doncellas, goldfish and paiches, and it also is the habitat of a great diversity of species of flora and fauna.
MANU NATIONAL PARK
The Manú National Park (1,716,295 ha.), located in the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios, shelters over 800 bird species and 200 of mammals, as well as giant trees and also is the home of native communities. It is in that park that the bird sighting record is currently maintained, with 324 species, in only one day and in one place.
TAMBOPATA - CANDAMO NATIONAL RESERVE
The Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve (274,690 ha.) is known for possessing the world´s greatest diversity of mammal, tree, insect and bird species, and holds the world record in quantity of butterfly species. In the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park (1,091,416 ha.), there is the only tropical humid savannah existing in Peru. There, the hairy wolf and swamp deer, two endangered species, stand out, as well as the giant ant eater, giant otter, mountain dog, black lizard and arpía eagle.